Lewis Hamilton says it would be better for Formula One if more drivers would reveal their true personalities instead of acting like “squares”.
“I think Formula One needs personality and I think everyone has a personality,” said Hamilton in an interview with TV3 earlier this month. “They’re just too afraid, they’ve been led to believe they have to be this square and I’m sure when they get home they’re not.”
“The more and more us as individuals come out of our shells the better it will be for the sport.”
Hamilton has been criticised by some for his lifestyle away from the track. But he believes he has been performing better because he is more at ease with himself.
“I definitely think being myself has helped me be more successful,” said Hamilton. “Unfortunately in Formula One growing up it’s a very corporate sport, it’s very much been the same for a long, long time. The racing part’s exciting but everything outside is stale.”
“It’s like as a driver you have to be a square to fit in to the sport. That’s what I was led to believe, that you have to be a square to fit in to the sport.”
“I think once I finally got here and I was fully implanted by roots – so you can’t pull this tree out the ground it’s stuck in it for as long as I generally want to go – then I could start to be myself. It’s getting to a point where I don’t really care what people say. This is who I am and if you don’t accept it it doesn’t matter because I’m going to get in the car and I’m going to win.”
“And that’s so empowering to be able to do that. Being denied of who you are is the biggest crime you can do to yourself.”
“I sacrificed my childhood”
McLaren chief Ron Dennis recently said Hamilton would not be allowed the kind of freedoms he enjoys at Mercedes if he was still with his old team. But Hamilton said his first two years with the team in F1 weren’t positive experiences – despite winning the title in his season season.
“2007 and 2008 were two traumatising years,” he said. “It wasn’t good.”
“It sounds amazing winning the championship, which it is. But 2007 I lost it in my first year by one point which was painful in a way that I can’t really explain. And I didn’t know how to deal with it. So you box it up, and you hold it.”
“And then the next year I had it, and I lost it, I had it, and I lost it. And then I came across the line thinking I’d lost it and ten seconds later they told me I’d won it. It was not good. Whilst afterwards you’re smiling a little bit and you go home as the champion it eats so much, it takes so much out of you. And I wasn’t really able to fully embrace it.”
“I think also I was young, I wasn’t prepared to be in front of all those cameras. I was prepared to race and that’s why I was able to do as well as I did but I wasn’t prepared for the surroundings of Formula One. They didn’t put me through a school to learn how to deal with things and say the right things and not be affected by all the negativity that can be surrounded in sport. So it was really hard to deal with.”
“But then over the years there was the ups and downs, growing as a character that helped me. And then when I won last year I was finally able to really enjoy what I had worked for. I was like finally I’m grown inside because I sacrificed all my childhood years racing go-karts so I wasn’t doing the kid stuff normal kids were doing, I was growing in a different way. So I missed that childhood and so maybe I matured later, who knows. But I was able to finally enjoy and this year enjoy it even more.”
2015 F1 season
- How a secret Mercedes engine mode helped pressure Vettel into a race-ending puncture
- Over 100 driver penalties issued in record-breaking 2015
- Part-time racer? The facts of Hamilton’s ‘jet-set lifestyle’
- A unique atmosphere: Going to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2015 season review